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Spring… and pollen are in the air

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Spring officially starts this thursday and for many Mills students the allergy season has already begun.

“I wake up and have super puffy eyes, runny nose, and a heavy head,” said senior Rogena Swick. “I feel like I’m in the clouds.

Mills students have the option of checking pollen counts online to gauge the severity of the Oakland and Berkeley area at, which gives weekly pollen counts for areas all over the United States.

Besides giving an allergy forecast, however, also offers a “Pollen Library”. The library not only lists all types of pollen producers but it also maps the specific plants which are in bloom around this time in counties all over America – even the Alameda County.

Out of’s list of 49 species, Christina Mcwhorter, Botanical Garden and Greenhouse coordinator here at Mills, confirms 21 of these species are on campus.

Prominent species found on Mills that are on the list include Black Acacia, which is a widely spread exotic species on campus that emits a great deal of pollen, as well as the Maple tree. The list also includes California-Laurel and silk tassel trees as well as blue grass and dandelion.

An allergy, according to Web MD, is an abnormal response of the immune system to substances that include dust, food, pets and, of course, pollen and mold. Reactions to allergies vary in severity but can range from itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and nasal congestion to throat tightness, trouble breathing, and even shock. The good news is, many sufferers of allergies can unpack their travel bags and stay in the area by follow ing a couple of natural, easy steps.

According to, one of the key steps to preventing or relieving allergy symptoms is to keep doors and windows closed. This stops pollen and outdoor mold from moving in. Students can also take regular showers and change into fresh clothes since pollen can collect in your clothes and hair. Limiting outdoor activity will also reduce risk, especially in the mornings, when pollen count is usually at its peak.

And if all else fails, trusty over-the-counter antihistamines should do the trick.